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Psychological Cocktails by Paco Cao

As jaded as New Yorkers might be about, well, almost everything, it's not hard to lure them to an event when clever cocktails are involved, as curators at The Museum of Modern Art learned recently. When the museum started publicizing an event called “Psychological Cocktail Services – Theory and Practice,” facilitated by the Spanish artist Paco Cao, the class, which was priced at $100 for museum members and $150 for non-members, sold out within two days. That was in February. Since then, two additional sessions of the class have been added, both for April -- one tonight, and one on April 24th, and again, both are sold out.

Cao says people can call it performance art if they want (the museum doesn't; it's listed in MoMA's schedule of classes), but he considers Psychological Cocktail Services a logical evolution of his body of work, which, he says, consists of “prolonged projects of time and space and interaction–often intense–with the spectator.”

Cao isn't a mixologist, exactly, and the cocktails he's serving at MoMA aren't necessarily avant-garde in terms of ingredients; he has a fairly basic bar set-up with standard liquors like rum, vodka, and gin. But it's the concept and the experience that lead up to the stirring, shaking, and serving of the cocktails that make the class so intriguing for those who sign up to take it.

We met at MoMA a few weeks before his first class to talk about the development of Psychological Cocktail Services, the intersections of alcohol and art, his own drinking habits, and his fascination with food. Here are some excerpts from our hour-long conversation over rosé and sparkling water.

Find out what Paco Cao likes to drink, next...

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